Physical Exercises for Singers

Physical Exercises for Singers

We’re often asked questions relating to fitness and although we’re not fitness instructors or medically trained, here we answer a few basic questions and provide pointers and tips on ways to increase stamina that should help improve singing or performing on stage.

Singer Fitness Q & A

Q. Does a singer’s height or weight matter?

A. NO! Although it is better for your health and stamina to be at the right weight for your height and age, there are singers of all shapes and sizes. Lack of breath support and/or range can be caused by dramatic weight gain or weight loss but is usually regained with re-training & exercise.

Q. How fit do I need to be to become a singer?

A. Singers can use quite a lot of energy on stage depending on the type of show they’re presenting. It’s advisable to be reasonably fit. Take care of your health and do exercises in moderation. You don’t need to be a fitness freak, but you do need to have enough stamina to last you through a whole performance. Anything that improves the body helps the voice.

Q. How can I improve my stamina?

A. Swimming is excellent for helping to improve stamina, fitness and breathing control. Like every type of physical exercise, you can start slowly and increase the amount you do as your fitness improves.

Q. What exercises are good for singers and why?

A. Any aerobic exercise including walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis as these help to develop heart, lung strength and endurance. Co-ordination exercises like Yoga, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi etc., are good as they help to develop body awareness and aid in relaxation.

Q. I enjoy weight training – is this good for singing?

A. The main problem with muscle conditioning exercises (like sit-ups, crunches etc) is the possibility of tension in the neck and shoulders. If you are aware of this problem and don’t overdo the training, plus balance it out with a session of relaxation or co-ordination exercises, then you should be fine.

Q. I can’t do aerobics – any other suggestions?

A. One of the exercise systems that helps to improve your flexibility and muscle tone without jumping around is Callanetics. It works on the principle of using very small movements concentrating on various muscles and areas of the body. Some of the exercises are based on stretching and relaxing. Similar techniques which have been suggested by associates are Pilates and the Alexander Technique. These may not be suitable for some so check with your doctor.

Q. What exercises should singers avoid?

A. Avoid any exercises that encourage or lead to shallow breathing, neck or shoulder tension. Give yourself at least a couple of hours between exercising and singing. Avoid strenuous exercise on the day of a performance unless you are fit and know what you are doing!

Physical Exercises for Singers

Our ten minute tone up aims to help you warm up and relax the body prior to singing practise. Please Note: Check with your doctor prior to attempting any exercises.

Stand with your arms by your side, breathe normally and keep the head and shoulders relaxed at all times.

Drop your chin to your chest then slowly circle your head to the left, then up and back (only a little), to the right and then back down to the front. (a complete circle). Repeat this 5 times each clockwise and anti-clockwise.

Raise your shoulders towards your head, slowly rotate them back, down and forward. Repeat this 5 times then reverse the direction. Shake your arms out when finished.

Bend forward from the waist and let your arms drop towards the floor. Slowly unfold the body and raise your arms above your head, stretching your arms upward, then out to the side lowering them slowly back to their natural position. Repeat this 5 times.

Keeping your head relaxed and facing forward, open your mouth and yawn – do this twice then inhale a deep breath to a count of 5 and exhale to a count of 15.

Physical Exercise Links

These are just a small example of the extensive links to online exercises and lessons we have available in the Singers Articles section, which contains complete listings of lessons, exercises or articles available on each site with direct links to the page (when not a framed site) plus answers to pretty much everything a beginner, intermediate, advanced singer or teacher needs to know!

Anatomy of the Human Body
by Henry Gray 1918 is available online complete with diagrams! The pages are packed with information about each part of the body including muscles, respiratory apparatus, hearing and skeleton.

UK home page of the Feldenkrais Guild provides classes and teachers information.

L’Atelier du Chanteur
French/English site with animated physical and vocal exercises with articles and lessons for singers & teachers including Muscle type and innervation of the diaphragm by John Messmer (in English).

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique
provides information, advice and links to resources and further information.